Social scientists seek to probe and to describe the most intimate and secret practices by peoples across the world. The attraction of this "guarded realm" for many researchers is not rooted in their desire for knowledge and benefits alone, but some are also drawn by the allure of the forbidden, of secrecy itself. There is also a pleasure in dispelling what some understand to be mystery as in fact purely physical or superficial phenomena. There is the pleasure of trespassing on what is taboo.
The extraordinary amount of research into every minute aspect of sexuality and religious belief is simply not explicable on scientific grounds alone.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.